Web: Search & evaluate

The web contains a huge variety of information and sometimes finding what you want can be a bit overwhelming. However, the quality of your information and the final product you produce is related to the quality of the sources you use therefore it is important to be able to evaluate the quality and value of a resource before you use it.

Searching for resources on the Internet

Before you start your search read the instructions carefully and identify what you need to find and where you might find the information or resources. 


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Critically evaluating online resources

Not everything we read on the Internet is accurate, comprehensive or unbiased so it is important to follow a couple of simple rules when conducting your search:
  • Always be wary of any one single source, or of multiple works that derive from a single source
  • Where articles have references to external sources (whether online or not) read the references and check whether they really do support what the article says (Wikipedia, 2012).
Once you have found a resource you need to evaluate it to see if it is appropriate for your needs. You also need to check the reliability and credibility of the resource. 

Resources for evaluating the quality of web materials:
You also need to check how it is licensed to see if it gives permission for reuse, particularly reuse on the web. Go to the Copyright and Creative Commons page for more information about licenses.

After you have decided what you want to use make sure you use it ethically (e.g. paraphrasing, quotinglinking and attributing) by crediting the original author.

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Teaching ideas, resources & activities




Activity 1: Fake news?
  1. Read: How fake news goes viral: A case study (The New York Times, Maheshwari, 2016)
  2. Read: Fake news, alternative facts, and dedicated librarians as defenders of truth (LaGarde, 2017)
  3. Play the game: Fake it to make it (Warner, 2017)
  4. Search for a recent online news story (see: Web: Seach & evaluate page for information and useful resources)
  5. Evaluate the news story to determine if it is true or fake
  6. Report your findings. Some suggested reporting tools: Blog - add a post to your own blog, Twitter #fakenews, Pinterest - Tag #fakenews or fakenews, Diigo - Tag #fakenews, or fakenews 

Activity 2: Website evaluation
  1. Read: Crap detection 101 (Rheingold, 2009) 
  2. Read: 5Ws of website evaluation (Schrock, 2015)
  3. Search for a website or blog related to a topic of interest to you
  4. Apply the CRAP test to determine if you think the website is a good resource, or not